Kill Rock Stars will be releasing the new album from Portland darlings Quasi on February 23, 2010. “American Gong” was recorded at Jackpot Studios by Kendra Lynn and was mixed by Steve Fisk (Unwound, Sleater-Kinney, Shoplifting) This is Quasi’s first studio album since 2006’s “When The Going Gets Dark” and first for Kill Rock Stars.
Bio: Quasi formed in Portland, Ore., in 1993, which means that it’s been fearlessly rocking since long before your website launched or you booted up an iPod. For years — 16 to be exact — it was a duo consisting of Sam Coomes and Janet Weiss. In 2006, Joanna Bolme (of Stephen Malkmus + The Jicks) joined the band on bass.
Quasi flings words and notes relentlessly, hurling music across the stage like grenades. It is explosive and electrifying. Coomes devours his instruments, whether it is keyboard or guitar, fusing melody and mayhem. His voice can go from deadpan to caterwauling, from a lovely lilt to a sardonic sting. Weiss is the avalanche (earthquake? tsunami? volcano?) of drummers. Really, just step aside and make a soft landing for your jaw, because it’s very likely to drop. Plus, Weiss can sing, which means that Quasi has harmonies; they hint at sweetness, settling into the halcyon moment for a while, before you realize that the words conjure a creeping sense of unease.
Quasi’s songs teeter between optimism and despair, fantastical journeys and harsh realism; this is a pop band for people who like their pop throttled. Coomes, Weiss and Bolme are consummate players who let go of the reins to let the wildness accumulate; who space out and make the music disintegrate, blur and tumble before it falls back into the groove. Their playing is proficiently, seamlessly ragged.
Quasi’s new album, American Gong, is still ringing in my ears. And by ringing, I mean that it’s obliterated and unstuffed the cushiony music that’s been singing me to sleep for the past few years. Personally, I’m well rested and ready to move on. American Gong signals that the musical group hug we’ve been stuck in for a while is over. Gong lurches and veers; it reels, resets, crawls and moans. But the album also professes beauty; it surfaces from the murkiness and soars. In the midst of this awesome sonic storm are expertly crafted compositions and arrangements, gravel and grime-coated rock, psych and pop tunes that never lose their shine.
Listen to “Repulsion,” listen to “Little White Horse,” listen to “Bye Bye Blackbird.” Wait! Listen to the whole thing. “Black Dogs And Bubbles.” Yes! Yeah! Yay! Words just seem silly compared to the feeling of wanting to jump around.
Here’s something that resembles a cheat sheet: there’s a lot of guitar playing on this album.
Let me end by saying that Quasi is a stellar and inventive band. On American Gong they sound inspired, happy to be playing, even joyful. I think kids will discover Quasi for the first time on American Gong. And long-time fans will wonder where all the time has gone and be thankful that Quasi is still around to provide the unofficial soundtrack to our hopelessly hopeful lives. Rise up!
-Carrie Brownstein, November 2009
American Gong Track List
02. Little White Horse
03. Everything And Nothing At All
04. Bye Bye Blackbird
05. The Jig Is Up
06. Black Dogs and Bubbles
07. Death Is Not The End
08. Rockabilly Party
09. Now What
10. Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler
QUASI TOUR DATES
12.31 – Portland, OR @ Doug Fir Lounge (Fir Ball 2010 – Quasi Performs As The Who)
03.09 – Arcata, CA @ The Depot at Humboldt State
03.10 – San Francisco, CA @ The Independent
03.11 – Visalia, CA @ The Cellar Door
03.12 – Los Angeles, CA @ Spaceland
03.13 – Costa Mesa, CA @ The Detroit Bar
03.14 – San Diego, CA @ The Casbah
03.15 – Tucson, AZ @ Plush
03.21 – Norman, OK @ The Opolis
03.22 – Kansas City, MO @ Record Bar
03.23 – Denver, CO @ Larimer Lounge
03.25 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Urban Lounge
03.26 – Boise, ID @ Neurolux